From Uche Usim, Abuja
Member states of Union of Africa Shippers Council (UASC) have listed the bottlenecks inhibiting intra-Africa trade and commerce and proffered solution to address them.
At a two-day special sub-regional interactive meeting held in Abuja at the weekend, participants, who met Transport Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, listed transport infrastructure deficit as the key factor slowing down Africa’s socio-economic growth. They also frowned at the hellish experience of shippers where goods originating from an African country will have to be routed through Asia before getting to another African nation.
Speaking at the event with the theme: “Transport Infrastructure Development and Maintenance: Funding Options and Trade Policies”, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, told participants that the critical role of trade and transportation cannot be overemphasised.
Bello explained that transport drives integration, adding that trade connectivity is key to Africa’s development. He thus called for concerted efforts to improve key infrastructure rail, sea and sea.
“Addressing these deficits will bring about competitiveness, efficiency and cost reduction, especially in the West and Central Africa sub-region. We also need evolve sound trade policies to boost intra-Africa commerce,” he said.
He urged the gathering to examine better access to transportation infrastructure and networks to improve connectivity, promote integration of markets and enhance regional trade for sustainable economic growth of the West and Central African Sub-region.
In his remarks, the Senior Director and Head of Natural Resources and Transportation at Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Mr. Ato Gyasi, advised member countries to take advantage of the corporation’s financial support to develop infrastructure within the continent.
Director, Mass Transit and Road Transport, Federal Ministry of Transport, Dr. Anthonia Ekpa, informed the gathering of the various steps the Nigerian government was taking to overhaul its transport infrastructure, especially in the seaports.
Other speakers at the meeting include Chief Executive, Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Dr. Kofi Mbiah; representative of Director, Trade Department, Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS); and representative of the Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Export Group, Chief Ede Dafinone, Dr. Kinsley Usoh, among others.
TECHNOLOGY: Refining will add 60% value to our crude oil – Onu
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said the country would get over 60 per cent value from its crude oil if it refines locally.
He also said that in the cocoa value chain analysis, whereas the farmer, who grows and harvests the cocoa, gets 6.63 per cent, the manufacturer, who converts cocoa to chocolate, gets as high as 35.19 per cent.
These were contained in a keynote entitled, “Science, Technology and Innovation: The Way Forward” delivered by the minister at this year’s Founders Day of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).
Onu, who asserted that no nation has ever become truly great without science, technology and innovation, described the contributions of UNN to the search for knowledge, particularly scientific and technological knowledge as highly commendable.
He noted that the country’s over dependence on importation was a big threat to food and national security, stressing that there was light at the end of the tunnel as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was willing and ready to reverse the trend through greater funding for research and innovation.
He said: “We have, for the sake of love of country, to start consuming what we produce locally. We must protect our local industry so as to help them grow.
NATIONAL PLANNING: FG seeks German govt’s support for economic diversification
From Basil Obasi, Abuja
In line with the effort of government towards achieving economic diversification, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has said that the country would appreciate the support and assistance from developed countries of the world in achieving this laudable goal.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, who disclosed this, at the weekend in Abuja, said that Nigeria was focused on driving local manufacturing of goods, as part of its sustained effort to diversify the economy, and would appreciate the support of other developed countries of the world in the area of enhancing its technical capacity for achieving this goal.
The minister told a German delegation, led by that country’s ambassador to Nigeria, Dietmar Kreusel, that Nigeria would welcome the support of their home country, particularly in the area of technical support and expertise, to drive small and medium scale industries and aid manufacture of quality products within the country.
A statement by his Media Aide, Mr. James Akpandem, said the minister explained that the Nigerian government was determined to diversify the economy as a whole so as to avoid a repeat of the country’s economic woes, which largely results from overdependence on a single commodity – crude oil.
NEMA strengthens presence in three states
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
In its effort to bring disaster management closer to communities and reduce response time, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has strengthened its presence in three states of Kano, Adamawa and Edo states, with the opening of new offices in the states.
The operational offices, according to a statement by the agency, will be responsible for taking disaster risk reduction to grassroots, capacity building programmes for stakeholders and coordinating government and nongovernmental organisations involved in the disaster management in the states.
The three new offices has brought to nine the total of agency’s operational offices, in addition to the six zonal offices across the country.
A statement signed by the agency’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Sani Datti, explained that the new operational offices would further bring the services of the agency closer to the people.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Agency, Alhaji Sani Sidi, through the statement, has maintained that NEMA was making conscious effort to build stakeholders’ capacity and devise an appropriate mechanism to address the various facets of disaster risk reduction, namely- prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.